Alsip Mayor Patrick Kitching fired village Treasurer Elizabeth Gonzalez last year because she had rejected his sexual advances over several years, according to a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in Chicago.
Kitching’s improper conduct included often leaving on Gonzalez’s desk personal cards that contained “suggestive messages,” the suit claims.
“I’ll never tire of playing with fire … as long as that fire is you,” one card reads. Another features a picture of a dog that says, “No matter what, no matter when … I’m here for you.” Some of the cards are signed, “Love Me.”
“These cards are completely inappropriate for the mayor to send to an employee,” Dana Kurtz, Gonzalez’s attorney, said, adding that Kitching once tried kissing her client. “In the context of the other stuff that happened, they are completely inappropriate.”
Gonzalez alleges in her suit that the sexual harassment began in 2006, a year after the mayor was first elected, when Gonzalez was assistant treasurer, and stopped in 2011 when she insisted that Kitching stop such behavior, according to the suit, which also names the village as a defendant.
Gonzalez also changed her work hours so she could avoid Kitching and stopped answering his calls, the suit says.
It says that when Kitching was up for re-election in April 2013, Gonzalez, who was then the village treasurer, made it known that she supported his opponent.
After Kitching was elected to a third term as mayor, the village board passed an ordinance giving the mayor the authority to fire the treasurer, and Kitching dismissed Gonzalez about two months later, the lawsuit says.
Gonzalez, who began working for the village in January 2003 as assistant treasurer, contends that Kitching never reported her termination to the village board — a step that the suit says is required for the removal of any employee by the mayor.
The three-count lawsuit claims gender discrimination, retaliation and political discrimination and seeks Gonzalez’s reinstatement as treasurer and unspecified damages.
A call Thursday to the village hall to try to reach Kitching was not answered.